May 16, 2017

It was last May 8, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed the new Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, Roy Cimatu. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1970, served as Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff from May to September 2002 under the Arroyo administration.

Long-time buddies with the president

He was also appointed by Duterte as Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East in October last year. Aside from his military background, Cimatu is long time friends with President Duterte. They met when he was assigned in Davao while Duterte was still the Mayor of the city.  An Ilocano and native of Bagui, Ilocos, Cimatu hopes to continue Gina Lopez’s advocacies.

Photo from: (Roger Margallo)
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu. Photo from (Roger Margallo)

Pres. Duterte’s hurried decision

Greenpeace has reacted regarding the appointment and felt Duterte shouldn’t be in a hurry to appoint a new secretary. “Greenpeace is concerned that President Duterte has appointed someone else so quickly without first addressing the issues raised in Sec. Lopez’s term and the circumstances surrounding her rejection,” says Vince Cinches, political campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines.

Lack of environmental background

They’ve also shared their interest regarding Cimatu’s lack of environmental background. “Without prejudice to Mr. Cimatu, we have to be clear on the strengths and expertise of the appointed as DENR Secretary. We need somebody with a clear track record on the environment.  The problem with having a DENR Secretary who has no clear track record on environmental issues is that the person likely won’t see the importance of a healthy ecosystem to a healthy economy,” says Cinches.

Is a military man fit for the position?

Last week, protesters in Bataan, Tacloban and Cebu who were against the government’s environmental policies formed a human barricade demanded power companies to shift into renewable energy. Teody Navea of Sanlakas in Cebu City left a warning during the protest against Cimatu. “It is unfortunate that Lopez was replaced by a military man. What does a military man know about the changes needed in the department?” said Navea.

It has only been a week of Cimatu’s appointment but protesters have appeared and questioned his capacity to take over DENR. Only time will tell if he is fit for the position.

Header photo from: (Lyn Rillon)

TAGS: DENR environment Greenpeace roy cimatu